What Impact Will "Fault" Divorce Grounds Have on Property Division?

Of the various grounds for divorce, some are “fault” grounds and some are “no-fault” grounds. The fault grounds allege that one party is at fault somehow in the breakup of the marriage. The no-fault grounds do not allege fault on the part of either spouse but, rather, allege that a divorce is appropriate on the ground of mere separation.

So What Difference Does it Make Whether One File for Divorce Based on a Fault Ground or a No-Fault Ground?

It could make a substantial amount of difference in how the court treats each of the parties when deciding on any requests for alimony, attorney fees, and on the division of marital property. It could even effect the court’s ruling on child custody if the conduct indicates that such parent may not be fit to raise children.

In family law cases, the court divides property between the spouses equitably–that is, fairy. If the court finds that a particular spouse was at fault in the breakup of the marriage, the court may award that spouse less than half of the marital property. In addition, it may deny that spouse’s request for alimony or grant the other spouse’s request for alimony partly as a result of the at-fault spouse’s conduct.

The court in a family law case has broad discretion to decide property division, alimony, and attorney fees based on what it believes is fair under the circumstances. One spouse’s fault in the breakup of the marriage is a circumstance that the court may very well consider when deciding what is fair and that the court may use to justify a ruling that is unfavorable to that spouse.


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